September 9, 2013

RIP Cal Worthington [Darleen Click]

Most people outside of California are now saying “Cal who?” but for those of us growing up in the 1970’s, Cal Worthington and “his dog Spot” (which was never a dog) was a staple of local tv advertising.

He was 92

Cal Worthington, whose old-time carnival flair built one of the most successful car dealerships west of the Mississippi, has died. He was 92.

Worthington died Sunday while watching football at his home on the Big W Ranch near Orland, Calif., said his attorney Larry Miles. The cause has not been determined.

Described as a cross between Dale Carnegie and Slim Pickens, Worthington was best known for his wacky television pitches which had him wrestling with a tiger, flying upside down on an airplane wing or riding a killer whale. His sales antics with his “Dog Spot” drove a career that took him from a three-car lot on a patch of Texas dirt to a multi-make dealership empire that grossed billions of dollars and stretched from Southern California to Alaska. […]

Worthington spoofed the ads for decades, offering customers his “dog, Spot,” who always turned out to be any animal other than a dog. At one time or another, frogs, lizards, grizzly bears, hippos and even elephants played the part of Spot. It was during this time, too, that Worthington aired the famous 26-stanza jingle he’d written himself titled “Go See Cal.”

From the start, Worthington insisted on writing and starring in his own ads. And he believed in the power of repetition. At the height of his success, he spent $12 million to run his commercials 50,000 times a year.

The ads caught the eye of Hollywood, as Worthington made an appearance with a goose on “The Tonight Show.” When the bird soiled Worthington’s suit, host Johnny Carson quipped: “Be glad it wasn’t that elephant sitting on your lap.”

His fame earned him minor parts in the movie “Into the Night” and the television series “The Fall Guy,” where he naturally played a car dealer. The Television Bureau of Advertising called Worthington “probably the best-known car dealer pitchman in television history.”

Posted by Darleen @ 7:50pm


Comments (19)

  1. RIP Cal. He was a hoot.

  2. Leigh

    Just the other night, hubby and I was watching some grade B movie and a Cal Worthington ad comes on … we looked at each other and said “What? He’s not only still alive but making commercials?”

  3. “If you need a car or truck
    If you want to save a buck
    Come out and try your luck
    Go see Cal!”

    He and Criss-Craft boats were on KTTV all the time late at night.

  4. On the other hand, it looks like it might be — at its root — a tale of two pipelines:

    One that goes from Russia through Azerbaijan’s gas fields, then through Iran and Syria to the Mediterranean, which is hella convenient for Russian ships to use instead of having to traverse the Bosporus (easily blockaded). This is the one that’s being built.

    The other proposed one that was to go from Qatar through Saudi Arabia and to the Mediterranean. This would have been a real coup for the Sunnis.

    Qatar is the base for al Jazeera, which the Oministration has been touting up one side and down the other. Iran, obviously, is Shia central, so they’d be stuffing this whole thing down the Sunnis’s throats.

    And Obama wants to back Qatar and Saudi Arabia against Iran and Russia in the battle for the pipeline (aka the choke hold on Europe).


    Always listen to what the Left accuses you of, because that’s precisely what they’re up to.

  5. >On the other hand<

    why you be hating this post? go here for clown news:


    or here


  6. As someone raised in San Diego, I heard those commercials all the time too. The jingle is SEARED! into my memory.

  7. do you have the hat?

  8. no, just the three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star…

  9. Hmmm . . . all we had was “Crazy Eddie” Antar and his commercials over here. No elephants or tigers.

  10. Buy a new car for your wife
    She will love you all her life
    Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal…

    I grew up with those commercials in Seattle (“Worthington Ford in Federal Way, the only way, open ’til midnight every day!”).

    Being a little kid the first time I saw them, I misheard “go see Cal” as “pussy cow.” Didn’t make sense to me either.

    RIP, big guy.

  11. When he came to Sacramento he’d already been on “The Fall Guy” so I already knew who he was. And to be honest I was surprised he’d still been alive this long; found out he’d passed from an Iowahawk tweet.

  12. My first exposure to “Go see Cal” was this: in Into The Night, insomniac Jeff Goldblum is watching TV and one of Worthington’s commercials comes on. I think it was a surreal moment, but I haven’t seen that movie since 1985.

  13. HTML-fu

  14. Native So. Californian.. Another memory from my youth passes into eternity..

    R.I.P. Cal.

  15. If you want a brand new Dodge
    In your driveway or garage
    Go see Cal! Go see Cal! Go see Cal!

  16. You and me both, ouroboros.

    RIP Cal.

  17. ash trays to ash tray and eat my dust. Good bye Cal.

  18. I grew up watching Cal commercials. I remember going there once with my dad to look at a car for my mom. My friend and I talked Dad into test driving a 440 Six-pack Dodge Challenger. He punched it going out of the driveway, and smoked the tires all the way down the block. He looked at me and said, “I don’t think your mother would like this car.” But he was smiling…

  19. Always the showman, but he had a great mind for business. For better or worse, Cal Worthington changed the way cars are sold forever. He was the one of the first to realize that way more money was to be made in the financing the sale, rather than the sale itself, and turned that into big business. My dad knew Cal back in the late 60s. He once claimed he hadn’t made dime on the sale of a car in years, but financing the sales made him a millionaire.

    RIP Cal